Best High Calorie Dog Food For Weight Gain

Dog Food Nutrition October 3, 2021
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Best High Calorie Dog Food For Weight Gain

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Certain dog breeds are known for being long and lithe- the Greyhound is a great example. What you need to realize, however, is that there is a difference between a dog being lean and dog being skinny to an unhealthy degree.

Sudden weight loss is never healthy, though there are certainly other reasons why a dog might be underweight. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, talk to your veterinarian and start feeding it a high-quality dog food for weight gain.

Keep reading to learn more about the dietary needs of underweight dogs and how to choose a healthy dog food for weight gain. You’ll also receive our top 5 picks for the best dog food for weight gain.

Compare Best High Calorie Dog Food For Weight Gain

OVERALL BEST
Maximum Bully Chicken and Pork High Performance

1. Maximum Bully Chicken and Pork High Performance

BEST AFFORDABLE
Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Food

2. Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Food

BEST GRAIN FREE
Merrick Grain-Free Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe

3. Merrick Grain-Free Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe

BEST FOR SMALL BREEDS
Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed

4. Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed

BEST FOR LARGE BREEDS
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Recipe

5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Recipe

Protein
32% Min
Protein
34% Min
Protein
38% Min
Protein
32% Min
Protein
32% Min
Fat
22% Min
Fat
17% Min
Fat
15% Min
Fat
18% Min
Fat
13% Min
Fiber
4% Max
Fiber
3.5% Max
Fiber
3.5% Max
Fiber
4.0% Max
Fiber
7.0% Max
Calories
481 kcal/cup
Calories
442 kcal/cup
Calories
442 kcal/cup
Calories
370 kcal/cup
Calories
377 kcal/cup

Special Dietary Needs of Underweight Dogs

Some dogs are simply meant to be skinny – this is particularly true for active and working breeds. If you can look at your dog from the side, however, and clearly see its ribs, it could be underweight. There are a number of factors that can lead a dog to be underweight such as malnourishment, old age, and various health problems. If your dog is underweight, you may want to take it to the vet to make sure there isn’t anything going on under the surface.

Here are some things to look for in a good dog food for weight gain:

  • Calorie Density. The average dog burns about 30 calories per pound of body weight per day, so your dog may need more than that to gain weight. Look for a dog food that contains somewhere between 400 and 500 calories per cup.
  • Quality Proteins. Protein helps your dog build lean muscle mass for healthy weight gain and long-term maintenance. Look for quality animal proteins and at least 30% crude protein.
  • Healthy Fats. Fat provides a concentrated source of energy (calories) for your dog, so look for recipes with around 15% to 20% fat. Remember that it should come from animal sources as well, though plant oils can help ensure omega fatty acid balance.
  • Beneficial Supplements. No matter whether your dog is trying to gain or lose weight, balanced nutrition is essential. Fresh fruits and veggies provide natural sources for key vitamins and minerals – chelated minerals and probiotics are beneficial as well.

Keeping all of these things in mind, you’re now ready to learn how to choose the best dog food for weight gain. Here’s what you need to know:

How To Choose The Best Dog Food For Weight Gain?

When it comes to weight gain for dogs, you want to make it slow and steady. If your dog puts on too much weigh too fast, he could end up putting on fat instead of muscle and that isn’t healthy. This is why high protein content is so important. Protein from animal sources like poultry, meat, and fish are the most digestible for dogs, so look for a dog food made with those ingredients.

Next to protein, fat is the most important nutrient – dogs need at least 5% in their diet, though something closer to the 20% range is ideal for weight gain. Again, most of it should come from animal sources (like chicken fat or salmon oil) but plant-based fats like flaxseed and canola oil can help ensure a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Outside of protein and fat, your dog needs digestible carbohydrates for energy and dietary fiber. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of these and other nutrients, plus they are more bioavailable than synthetic supplements.

Your dog can also benefit from probiotics to support healthy digestion and to ensure that it’s absorbing all the nutrients from the food it eats.

Keep reading to see our top 5 recommendations for the best dog food for weight gain.

The Top 5 Best Dog Foods For Weight Gain

The best dog food for weight gain will have the right balance of protein and fat, both from high-quality animal sources. It should be higher in calories than the average dog food, but not so much as to make your dog gain weight in an unhealthy way.

Here are our top 5 picks for the best dog food for weight gain that you should consider:

OVERALL BEST
1.

Maximum Bully Chicken and Pork High Performance

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 22% Min
  • Fiber: 4% Max
  • Calories: 481 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Very high in protein and fat (30% protein, 20% fat)
  • Made with digestible carbohydrates for energy and fiber
  • Protein-rich chicken meal as the main ingredient
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Very expensive compared to other brands
If you’re in the market for a super-high-protein recipe made with quality ingredients, try this Maximum Bully Chicken and Pork High Performance. It contains 32% protein and 22% fat, making it the perfect recipe to help your dog gain weight. It features protein-rich chicken meal as the primary ingredient with digestible grains like brown rice and barley, plus plenty of fat from nutritious sources such as chicken fat and menhaden fish oil.
BEST AFFORDABLE
2.

Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Food

Product Info

  • Protein: 34% Min
  • Fat: 17% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Calories: 442 kcal/cup
Pros
  • More affordable than many high-protein brands
  • Real salmon as the first ingredient
  • Free form corn, wheat, soy, and artificial additives
  • Rich in essential fatty acids from animal sources
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Contains several plant-based proteins
Many high-protein dog food brands are expensive but this Crave Grain-Free Adult Dry Food is an affordable option.

Made with real salmon as the first ingredient, this formula is protein-rich and full of essential fatty acids to support your dog’s healthy weight as well as healthy skin and coat. This recipe is completely free from corn, wheat, and soy as well as artificial ingredients and it is supplemented with chelated minerals and vitamins for nutritional balance.
BEST GRAIN FREE
3.

Merrick Grain-Free Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 38% Min
  • Fat: 15% Min
  • Fiber: 3.5% Max
  • Calories: 442 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Numerous animal-based protein sources
  • Very high in protein (38%) with high fat (15%)
  • Grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas
Cons
  • Contains several plant proteins (pea protein and potato protein)
  • Some dogs are sensitive to beef ingredients
If your dog has a sensitivity to grains, this Merrick Grain-Free Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe is a good option for weight gain. Loaded with 38% protein and 15% fat, not only will it encourage healthy weight gain but it will also support lean muscle mass.

This recipe features deboned beef and lamb meal as the primary proteins with grain-free carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and peas. It also contains probiotics for healthy digestion and chelated minerals.
BEST FOR SMALL BREEDS
4.

Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 18% Min
  • Fiber: 4.0% Max
  • Calories: 370 kcal/cup
Pros
  • Made with premium animal proteins
  • Contains 32% protein and 18% fat
  • Naturally grain-free with plenty of fiber
  • Chelated minerals and probiotics
Cons
  • Primary source of fat is plant-based
  • Fairly expensive compared to other brands
Formulated specifically for small breeds, this Taste of the Wild Appalachian Valley Small Breed dry food is a high-protein recipe made with premium meats like venison, lamb, and duck. It is naturally grain-free, made with garbanzo beans and peas for carbohydrate energy, and plenty of healthy fats.

This recipe contains 32% protein and 18% fat, making ideal for helping your small bred dog gain weight. Plus, with beneficial supplements like chelated minerals and probiotics, you can bet that it will keep your dog healthy and happy as well.
BEST FOR LARGE BREEDS
5.

Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Adult Recipe

Product Info

  • Protein: 32% Min
  • Fat: 13% Min
  • Fiber: 7.0% Max
  • Calories: 377 kcal/cup
Pros
  • High in protein (32%) with moderate fat content (13%)
  • Quality animal proteins like chicken and chicken meal
  • Formulated specifically for larger breeds
  • Digestible carbohydrates like peas and tapioca starch
Cons
  • Some dogs are sensitive to chicken ingredients
  • Contains some plant protein (pea protein)
If you have a large-breed dog who needs to gain weight, high protein content is important but you want to avoid too much fat to encourage lean muscle gains.

This Blue Buffalo Wilderness Large Breed Recipe is the perfect choice because it contains 32% protein and 13% fat, all from high-quality ingredients. This recipe features deboned chicken and chicken meal as the primary ingredients with digestible carbohydrates like peas and tapioca starch plus healthy omega fats from menhaden fish meal.

How Much Should You Feed Your Dog To Gain Weight?

Choosing the first dog food for weight gain is important, but you also need to know how much to feed your dog.

You shouldn’t just feed your dog as much as it will eat because that could lead to excess growth which might put it at risk for joint issues or other health problems – controlled growth is best.

Try feeding your dog small meals more often to give it a steady stream of energy throughout the day to help it grow.

When deciding how much to feed your dog at each meal, refer to the feeding recommendations on the package according to your dog’s age. Instead of using its current body weight, however, use your dog’s ideal body weight to determine how much to feed it per day.

What About Food Allergies And Sensitivities?

Dog food allergies and sensitivities are more common than you may realize and, theoretically, a dog can develop an allergy to any food ingredient.

If your dog suffers from food allergies, you may need to find a product made with a novel source of protein and carbohydrate. Novel ingredients are simply ones your dog hasn’t had before – something like duck, venison, or salmon instead of common proteins like chicken or beef.

Digestible carbohydrates like whole grains or grain-free options like sweet potato or peas are also available. Generally speaking, the fewer ingredients in your dog’s food, the less likely it is that it will have a bad reaction, so a limited ingredient diet (LID) could be a good choice as well.

Final Remarks

In addition to feeding your dog a high-quality dog food for weight gain, you should also make sure it gets plenty of exercise. While this may sound counterintuitive, exercise helps your dog build muscle and bulk. To get started shopping for dog food, try one of the top 5 best dog foods for weight gain that we have reviewed above.

Kate Barrington holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is the published author of several self-help books and nutrition guides. Also an avid dog lover and adoring owner of three cats, Kate’s love for animals has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in pet care and nutrition. Kate holds a certificate in fitness nutrition and enjoys writing about health and wellness trends — she also enjoys crafting original recipes. In addition to her work as a ghostwriter and author, Kate is also a blogger for a number of organic and natural food companies as well as a columnist for several pet magazines.
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